I love being a Harry Potter fan. Rachel got me hooked on the books sometime during the second half of 2000. I know it was after GoF came out and I had read all four books and the two schoolbooks before GoF was out in paperback.
What do I like about the books? The characters are so simple and complex at the same time. Yes, that is possible. The plots are so intricate. And, probably what I like most, there is so much detail. JK describes everything, but the books never seem dense, unlike LOTR. I guess it's because she only gives like one or two descriptions of things.
Also, and this is becoming more and more important to me, the fanfic potential for the books is incredible. Go to Fanfiction.net and check out the Harry Potter category under Books if you don't believe me. People have written thousands of stories about the characters and that world. Believe me, it's a world I love to spend time in.
I highly recommend you read the books before you see the movies. Because of time restrictions, there's so much more detail in the books.
As I stated before, my favorite characters are Severus Snape, Hermione Granger, and Marcus Flint.
Professor Severus Snape is the Potions Master at Hogwarts. He's Harry Potter's least-favorite teacher. The feeling is mutual, believe me. Severus is described as having shoulder-length oily black hair, a large hooked nose, black eyes, and a deep, sometimes silky voice. He's also mean, nasty, cynical, and sarcastic. Alan Rickman plays him in the Harry Potter movies, and he's perfect, except that Severus is in his mid-thirties, roughly twenty years younger than Alan. Also, I think Snape's eyes in the movies are brown and they should be black, but that's a relatively minor thing. :-) Besides being the Potions Master, he's a former Death Eater (Voldemort's lackeys) and is going to spy on Voldemort for Dumbledore. Snape is also the Head of Slytherin House at Hogwarts and he was a Slytherin when he was in school.
Of course, the books are written in Harry's POV, so most Snapefic authors more or less mute the characteristics the books give, except for the black eyes and silky voice. I think that most of the younger female Harry Potter fans aren't interested in Snape because he's too old for them and they're turned off by the description. Us older female fans tend to see Snape as a Byronic hero. You know, "mad, bad, and dangerous to know," tortured soul, all that. He also has a touch of Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy. Some fanfic writers are out to redeem him, usually through love. Every Snapefic writer and reader seem to have a favorite character, male or female, they like to see Snape paired up with. My favorites are Hermione and Prof. Sinistra, the Astronomy teacher.
That brings me to my second favorite Harry Potter character. Hermione Granger is one of Harry's best friends. She's a Gryffindor, like Harry. Hermione is the smartest student in Harry's year, if not Hogwarts as a whole. She reads voraciously and has an incredible memory. She started out as being very bossy and a stickler for the rules, but she has relaxed a lot since her first year. She's described as having long, busy brown hair and brown eyes. Until midway through her fourth year, she also had very large front teeth. Also, Hermione is a Muggleborn -- she's a witch born to Muggle (ordinary) parents.
I like Hermione because, I'm not ashamed to say, she reminds me so much of myself. Brown eyes, brown hair that is slightly out of control, bookworm, great memory, bossy, brilliant, loyal, etc. She's a great person all around, and I can't wait for her to grow up and start noticing boys. She did have a crush on Gilderoy Lockhard, her second-year Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, but that was before she realized how deceitful he was. In the books, she seems to have a crush on Ron. I have nothing against Ron, but I'd rather she be interested in Snape (after she graduates, of course) or at least Harry. Ah well. There's always fanfic. :-)
My third favorite is Marcus Flint. He's a Slytherin and was the captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team in the first three books. Marcus was a sixth-year in SS, PS, whatever you want to call the first book. He was a seventh-year in CoS and should have graduated at the end of that year, but JK brought him back for PoA. She said he had to repeat his last year. I've heard that students in the UK never repeat a year, no matter how badly they do. Whatever, I'll go with what JK says. :-) Harry describes Marcus as being troll-like, and he's known to cheat when he plays Quidditch. We don't know, yet, what happened to him after he graduated.
Why do I like Marcus? He's a typical bad boy character, and I love bad boys. Jamie Yeates plays Marcus in the movies, and he's decidedly more attractive. The movie Marcus' only physical flaw is really bad teeth. Jamie wore fake teeth. I think Marcus would be a great boyfriend if he could find a girl who could see the real him. You know, in that sense, he's a bit like the Beast from Beauty And The Beast, my favorite fairy tale. Honestly, and I know this sounds bizarre, I think Hermione would be perfect for him.
More gushing later.